‘Promotion or nothing’: Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis sets lofty target of reaching the Premier League as Kemar Roofe’s handball goal denies his team significant victory
- The owner of Nottingham Forest has demanded they reach the Premier League
- Greek chief Evangelos Marinakis made a surprise visit to the club last week
- Forest would have won on Saturday, possibly, but for Kemar Roofe’s late goal
- Seven points now separate the top 12 in what is a hugely competitive division
The owner of Nottingham Forest, Athens-based Evangelos Marinakis, made a surprise visit to the club last week. His message, according to Forest’s goalscorer at Leeds on Saturday, Jack Robinson, was: ‘Promotion or nothing.’
Given that Leeds United started the day top, dropped to fourth and ended up second, and that seven points separate the top 12, the message appears as demanding as a hugely competitive division.
‘The owner came in last week and made it clear that it’s promotion or nothing for us,’ Robinson said.
Jack Robinson is surrounded by his Nottingham Forest team-mates after scoring their first goal
Owner Evangelos Marinakis has demanded Premier League football from Aitor Karanka
‘So we’ve all got that same goal. It’s about coming out on a Saturday and a Wednesday and getting the performances to get those three points.
‘He’s positive. He’s put a lot of money into it, so there’s a lot of ambition coming from him, and with the results we’ve been getting, he’s not happy. We have to improve quickly.’
Forest are not slouching, they have only lost one of their last nine league games and would have won here, possibly, but for Kemar Roofe’s handball goal in the 82nd minute – but the table shows them seventh and next up are leaders Sheffield United at the City Ground.
Going to Elland Road and resisting Leeds for so long reveals both organisation and commitment; necessary qualities.
Kemar Roofe rescues a point for Leeds in the 82nd minute of the Championship encounter
‘I think it shows the character in the team,’ added Robinson. ‘We’ve got a good squad. We’ve made a few changes again, and the people coming in are doing well. We feel we’re starting to come together as a team.’
For Leeds there was frustration that their territorial domination did not bring more goals, but while Costel Pantilimon’s area was under siege for most of the match, the giant keeper was not called into action time and again.
‘We ran a lot, we had possession, we had the whole game,’ said manager Marcelo Bielsa. ‘If I am right, we had five chances to score in each half.’
Roofe appeared to equalise with his arm with just eight minutes left against Nottingham Forest
Roofe celebrates after securing a point for Leeds at Elland Road on Saturday evening
The equaliser was therefore greeted with relief in the home dugout as well as stands that had been noisy throughout.
Bielsa was not keen to criticise Roofe for his forearm goal. ‘To say a player cheated, we need to be certain,’ he said.
Roofe was unapologetic. ‘The ball came across and I anticipated it,’ he said. ‘And yeah, the ball hit my arm. It’s up to the ref to give it.
‘The arm was by my knee, and I just hit it. It’s the same with other decisions — free-kicks and penalties. Some you get and some you don’t. It’s up to the referee to make that decision.’
The goal capped what Roofe said was: ‘One of the craziest weeks for me — the birth of my second child, no sleep, three games in a week and two goals.’
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